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[DPRG] RE: SWARC at RoboRama

Subject: [DPRG] RE: SWARC at RoboRama
From: Chuck McManis cmcmanis at mcmanis.com
Date: Fri Sep 12 09:13:00 CDT 2003

I'll keep this at a high level because it tends to digress into a 
flame-fest of opinions. Bill feel free to tell me to take it offline.

At 08:45 AM 9/12/2003 -0500, rten at new.metronet.com wrote:
>Before beginning any discussion on a subject not completely understood,
>one must define and agree upon terms.
>When you say "robot", what do you mean when you identify a mechanism as a
>robot?
>Ralph


I tend to use the definition  #2 that comes with the dictionary:

Main Entry: ro·bot<javascript:popWin('/cgi-bin/audio.pl?robot001.wav=robot')>
Pronunciation: 'rO-"bät, -b&t
Function: noun
Etymology: Czech, from robota compulsory labor; akin to Old High German 
arabeit trouble, Latin orbus orphaned -- more at 
<dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=orphan.htm>ORPHAN
Date: 1923
1 a : a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex 
acts (as walking or talking) of a human being; also : a similar but 
fictional machine whose lack of capacity for human emotions is often 
emphasized b : an efficient insensitive person who functions automatically
2 : a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks
3 : a mechanism guided by automatic controls

However, the fact that you start here is illuminating.

In our club, and probably yours as well, many people arrive with only one 
of the three skills needed to build a robot (programming, mechanics, 
electronics). They seek out the club to develop expertise in the other 
areas in order to build robots. These potentially new members have often 
developed that skill either in school, at work, or perhaps in some other 
hobby. That their "other" hobby was directed at a different goal (R/C, 
robotic combat, etc.) is irrelevant to your club but it is a piece of where 
they came from. So when you exclude folks like SWARC and the R/C community 
>from your events, you exclude people who might become wonderfully 
productive club members.

My message was meant to ask the question, "Why turn away people on the 
path?": If you feel that denying SWARC a table at Roborama will somehow 
help change or stop a movement toward combat robotics (which you clearly 
disapprove of)  then you are mistaken. They have many venues and they have 
television shows that are attracting their new members. If you believe that 
allowing them at your event will be perceived to imply your club supports 
robotic combat then you need not worry as people talking to DPRG members 
will find that is not the case. However, you may also find new people who 
have come two steps along the path and open their eyes to the fun/challenge 
of making autonomous mobile robots. If you do this you will have new 
competitors in your events, new dues in your treasury and new brains to 
bounce ideas off of. That is a complete win for the club.

Starting the conversation by putting stakes in the ground about what's a 
robot don't advance the discussion. They distract it. Instead you should 
consider asking the question "Are people who belong to <organization name> 
likely to become DPRG members?" Clearly SWARC and R/C club members are, 
whereas say real-estate marketers are not.

Its all in how you look at it,
--Chuck


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